Tag Archives: Urban Hikes

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Spring)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area get on the trail as it follows along a large open field with branches of Steigerwald Lake running through it. There were many different birds out in the grass and shrubs and some water birds in the stream. You will soon enter an area with more trees and a stream off to your right. When you get to the split, go left through the seasonal door (open May through September) and follow the trail as it goes along the field and enters a wooded area. There are lots of birds in this area as well.

      

      

You will round a corner and leave the refuge and get on the Columbia River Dike Trail. There are a lot of Purple Martin houses here and they are all flying around which is great. Go right on the trail and follow it a short distance where you will take a side trail and get back into the refuge. You’ll pass a tall interpretive sign and cross a bridge over Redtail Lake, here we saw a Cinnamon Teal, Mallards, and Canada Geese in the water. In the trees and grass lining the water we saw Red-Wing Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, and a Common Yellowthroat. After crossing the bridge you’ll enter and wooded area, we saw many birds here including an Osprey and Wilson’s Warblers.

      

      

      

There is another bridge that you cross and you’re back at the seasonal door. Go left and follow the trail back out the way you came in.

We were previously here in mid summer and it was nice but very hot. Spring is a great time, birds are nesting and very active, and the weather is great.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: None

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends

Overall: Spring is a great time to visit this wildlife refuge

Mt. Tabor (Spring)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland

Mt. Tabor is one of Portland’s best parks. It offers a variety of well maintained trails, has a basketball and tennis court, you can see three unique reservoirs, and has a lot of opportunities for nature viewing.

There are maps at a kiosk area in the main parking lot. Mt. Tabor offers three marked trails (blue, green, and red) but has plenty of unmarked trails as well. For this post we are going to focus on the blue trail, which is the longest of the marked paths.

Starting at the parking area find the blue arrow that’s just a few steps past the basketball court. Follow the path through a wooded area downhill where it pops back up and you cross the road, heading down to the tennis courts. From here you walk around the first reservoir and follow the arrows to a steep staircase. Head up the stairs and you will reach the second reservoir, take the upper trail that’s lined with cherry blossom trees around the reservoir. Continue following the blue arrows downhill in a more wooded area that takes you to the third reservoir that you will go around and head up a short paved path.

      

      

The path ends at the road which you will get on and go right a short distance to the next arrow taking you uphill on a dirt trail. Follow this trail somewhat steeply uphill to the very top and take the paved loop to it’s west side and follow the trail back down past a play structure to the parking area.

      

      

You will get great views of downtown Portland quite a few times on the blue trail. You get to see all of the open air reservoirs and some very pretty blooming trees as well.

Mt. Tabor is pretty much always busy unless you are here really early on a weekday. Even then you will still see people walking dogs or on a morning run. So if you are looking for peace and quiet, this may not be the best place.

 

Distance: You can do a total of 5.7 miles on all of the marked trails (blue- 3 miles, green- 1.7, red-1)

Elevation: 350 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Very

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great urban hike with lots to see!

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Winter)

The Rhododendron Garden is located on 28th Avenue, across from Reed College in the Eastmoreland neighborhood.

This is more of a walk than a hike but it’s still a nice place to go to get outdoors for a while.

From the entrance take the paved path and switchback once where you go under a bridge and come to a pond. There are lots of ducks here and sadly it looks like the big willow tree that was by the bridge didn’t make it through the winter storms. Continue on the path and you will round a corner and start to see the golf course across the water. The path here is gravel and takes you to another pond with even more ducks, you may even see a nutria if you have the patience to hang around for a while.

      

      

After crossing the long bridge go left and down along the pond, pick up the path as it goes back up into the rhododendrons. There will be a fence and stream to your left and a grassy area to your right. As you continue to follow this trail it will round a corner and come to an area with cattails and reeds, you can see more of the golf course across the water here as well. Continuing around you’ll be following along the water as it loops back to the long bridge. From here just continue to follow the path back to your car. There are lots of side trails along the way to check out, the garden is beautiful and a great place to explore.

      

      

Some of the birds we saw were herons, ruddy ducks, mallards, humming birds, geese, coots, wigeons, and wood ducks.

Distance: 2 miles (you can do more or less, depends on which trails you take)

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes but dogs must be leashed

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee from March- September, except every Mon & Tues are free year round.

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place for wildlife viewing, we need to go back during rhododendron season.

Browns Ferry Park (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 to exit 289. Turn left onto Nyberg, follow the road a short distance and the park will be on your left.

This is a nice park for a quick walk, or a great place if you’re a birder.

      

From the parking area go over the bridge, follow the trail around to the left and you can quickly check out the big barn that’s in the park. Head back and down towards the pond, this is a great area to see birds. During our visit we were able to see a golden crowned sparrow, spotted towhee, gadwalls, northern shovelers, buffleheads, green winged teals, and pied-billed grebes. Continuing on, follow the path past the pond and across another bridge.

      

      

From here stick to the dirt path that follows along the river. We saw a woodpecker in here and you will pass by a few small marshy pond areas. The trail connects back out to a paved path briefly but you can get on the dirt trail again. Follow this for as long as you want. You get brief views of the Tualatin River and the houses that line it, but it’s mostly fairly wooded.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

 

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends.

Overall: This is a nice park, the pond attracts some great birds. Nice place for kids or an afterwork walk as well.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (Winter)

Directions: Take I-5 South to exit 294. Get onto 99W/Barbur Boulevard and drive about 6.5 miles. Take a right into the Refuge.

From the parking area follow the trail down into a wide gravel path with trees. There are many side trails and benches with informational signs. The path goes down a small hill and over a bridge where you will start to follow along the Tualatin River. We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately and the river was definitely over it’s bank. There were large areas of the trail along the river that were flooded out and you needed to go way out into the grass to get around it.

      

There is a platform area that gives you a view of the river and has an informational sign. Continuing on you head toward a thicker wooded area. The trail was flooded out here and we couldn’t go any farther. If you are able to continue, the trail takes you out to a wetland observation deck. It gives you great views and there are usually lots of birds out this way.

      

Head back out the way you came in and make sure you check out the visitor center. There are a few telescopes that let you get a nice closeup view of the wetlands. As well as lots of interpretive stuff.

      

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 60 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place to do some birding.

Smith and Bybee Wetlands (Summer)

Directions: Smith and Bybee Lakes is located at 5300 North Marine Drive. You can take I-5 to exit 307 for Marine Drive. Turn right onto Marine Drive and follow it until you see the sign for the wetlands.

From the parking area head to your right on the paved path. You will pass by a small turnout that goes by a small marshy area. If you look through the cattails you can see turtles and maybe even a Great Blue Heron. Continue on until you come to the entrance of the wetland area.

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Follow the path into the heavily treed area and come to your first junction. Going right takes you to a viewpoint of a really boggy marshy area where you can see lots of birds. Next, go left at the junction and follow the trail a short distance to some boardwalk and a small sheltered area. This is another great spot for birdwatching. During the rainy months this boardwalk will have water under it from the marsh off in the distance. We heard you could see Pelicans in this area but we didn’t see them on this visit.

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Keep following the path and it will take you in a loop back onto the main paved trail. Go left and continue on for a bit before the trail opens up into a field area with tall grasses. We saw a deer out in this area eating. The trail eventually ends at another covered viewing area that is also great for watching birds and maybe even catching a glimpse of a beaver. From here you just follow the path back out the way you came in.

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Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the wetland area.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Sometimes. It can get a bit busy on the weekends.

Overall: It’s a great area for kids and bird lovers. Nice place to get a quick walk in after work as well.

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Summer)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 East and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area get on the trail near the bathrooms. The first part of the trail follows along a grassy/marshy area with Steigerwald Lake off to your left. The lake isn’t very big and almost looks like a very slow moving creek. The grassy area is pretty and you can see Crown Point and Larch Mountain off in the distance. Next, you will come to an area with Cotton Wood trees that offers some much needed shade if you’re visiting in the warmer months. At the junction go left through the metal art doorway.

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After passing through the door follow the trail with the marsh to your left and the trees to your right. Here is where you will really get to see a lot of wildlife. We saw numerous different types of birds (Osprey, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Bollocks Oriole, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Harrier, and much more!). We also saw a coyote pup and deer. The trail continues as you leave the refuge briefly and get onto the Columbia River Dike Trail. Go right here and follow this trail a short distance, you will pass by white birdhouses that have Purple Martins in them! Soon you will come to a split in the trail, go right and enter back into the Wildlife Refuge.

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As you continue on the trail you will pass a tall wildlife sign and come to a bridge that takes you over Redtail Lake. After the bridge, continue on the trail as you round right and come to a second bridge (take a moment to look up here, there is a large Osprey nest high up in the trees). After this bridge you are back at your first junction. Go left here and follow the trail you came in on back to your car.

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 0

Difficulty: Easy- good for all ages.

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the wildlife refuge.

Bathrooms: Vault toilet at trailhead

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: Year round (some parts are closed Oct-Apr)

Popular: Yes

Overall: Very easy hike (more of a walk) that is great for wildlife viewing, or a quick place to get outside and get moving.

 

Summer Hikes

Looking for a nice summer hike? Here’s a list of some of our favorites 🙂

If you’re looking to stay in Portland and the surrounding cities check out Oak Island, Mt. Talbert, or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. They are all easy hikes that have decent shade and lots of birds.

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We love hitting up all the great trails that the Mt. Hood area has to offer during the summer months. Tamanawas Falls and Umbrella Falls are great options if you are looking for a waterfall hike. For a lake hike check out Mirror Lake (and Tom, Dick, and Harry Ridge!), and Lower Twin Lake. Zigzag Canyon is also a really fun hike, go in mid to late June while the lupine is blooming!

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Some great summer Gorge hikes are Upper and Lower Latourell Falls, Gillette Lake, and Strawberry Island.

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Summer time is full of Kayaking as well, be sure to check out Scappoose Bay and Lost Lake!

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–Happy Hiking!

 

Mary S. Young State Park (Spring)

Directions: Take I-205 South to exit 8 (West Linn) and follow Willamette Drive until you see the entrance for Mary S. Young Park on your right. Follow the road all the way through the park to the main parking area in the back.

At this parking area there is a map of the park (take a picture with your phone so you don’t forget!), you can also view the map here. We decided to just take a few of the trails and explore the park. We ended up seeing parts of the Trillium, Turkey Creek, Riverside and Heron trails. We were trying to get out to Cedar Island but the bridge wasn’t open yet (even though it was supposed to open in spring).

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All of the trails are well maintained and can become busy on nice days. They are a mix of pavement, packed dirt, and wood chips. There are lots of great birding areas and multiple creeks that run through the park. You also have good views of the Willamette River. There are a few off-leash dog areas as well.

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Distance: 1-5+ miles

Elevation: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the picnic areas

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Mary S. Young Park is a great option if you don’t want to drive very far. Like Mt. Tabor or Powell Butte it’s nice to just get out and explore all the different trails.

Powell Butte (Winter)

Directions: The main parking area for Powell Butte is located at 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

This hike is a revisit, some of the trails we took are different from our first visit. Click here to see our first post.

From the main parking area get on the Mountain view trail. It’s wide and paved with some interpretive signs along the way. After about a quarter mile you will come to a trail junction, go left onto the Wildhorse Trail. This trail is packed dirt and can get pretty muddy after heavy rains. The Wildhorse trail is short and takes you up to the top of Powell Butte. It drops you off at the Summit Lane Trail which is loose gravel and takes you around the the top of the butte and past a viewpoint. Take the Summit Lane trail on the South side of the butte and get on the South Trail, it heads back down the butte into the wooded area.

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The South Trail goes down a few short switchbacks and crosses a small stream. You will be going down to the base of Powell Butte and heading west for a short distance. It’s a nice quiet hike through tall trees as you make your way to the Douglas Fir Trail. From here you start heading back up the butte as you make your way out of the woods. Soon you will be back on the Summit Lane trail. Take this up to the top of the Butte where you can get back on the Mountain View Trail that takes you down a paved trail back to the parking area.

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Powell Butte: 4 miles

Elevation: 250 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a great hike that’s right in Portland. Great option for after work hikes or a quick weekend outing.